interview | olivia dean

Olivia Dean is the East London singer proving heartbreak doesn’t have to be so sombre. She writes with the tender frankness of Amy Winehouse and performs with the patient magnetism of soul singers from a by-gone era. Listen to her lyrics and you’ll hear diary-like sincerity and a refreshing take on relationships.Dean’s bright-eyed perspective on universal themes is what has contributed to her organic growth online. The 21-year-old posted her first song Reason to Stay on Spotify and Soundcloud which attracted hundreds of thousands of streams. During quarantine Dean has been digitally wowing audiences with acoustic performances of her music. Fans hoping to catch the Olivia Dean experience live are in for a treat, as she plans to head across the UK on her From Me To You tour.  She’ll be performing outdoors in a bright yellow truck for fans and passerbys.

In anticipation of her upcoming tour, Dean channels The Supremes and Diana Ross in her  music video for new single The Hardest Part. The song is a sweet and sobering ballad with Motown-inspired harmonies and a mature perspective on growth after a relationship. Dean has made a positive heartbreak anthem that perfectly captures the post-breakup glow up. With a bright year ahead of her, Schön! chats to the rising star about how she’s staying connected through music.

Did you come from a musical household?

Not really but music was always playing at home. My dad has a huge record collection and we would always dance around in the kitchen together to whatever was his favourite record at the time. Could have been Steely Dan or Al Green. He was into a huge range of genres.

What are some of your first musical memories?

My dad actually sent me a video the other day of me in a little Peaky Blinders flat cap singing Where Is Love, from the musical Oliver, at a singing competition. I must have been 11! That feels like my first memory of performing.

Who did you listen to growing up that still inspires your sound today?

Growing up I fell in love with Amy Winehouse’s first album and I loved the whole Motown era too. Especially The Supremes who were a big influence on my new single The Hardest Part.

What inspired you to write The Hardest Part?

I wrote The Hardest Part on a trip to Copenhagen with two of my close co-writers, Bastian and Max. It was my first time being there. At the time it really felt like I was closing a chapter of my life and starting a new one. I wanted to write something that explored a positive outlook on moving on from a relationship and coming to terms with change.

You explore love so frankly in your music. Do you usually take songwriting inspiration from your personal relationships?

I find songwriting really therapeutic. Often writing about my experiences helps me process them in a way I sometimes can’t express in real life. 

What themes do you explore in your upcoming EP?

This EP is me processing the breakdown of a relationship and coming to terms with moving on. It can be both painful and freeing at the same time. I wanted to capture the range of emotions you go through.

How do you think your music has grown since your last EP Ok, Love You Bye?

I think I’ve grown up a lot as a person since my last EP and the music feels like it’s grown with me. It’s a little darker in tone but complexity is the spice of life.



How has lockdown impacted your creativity?

Yes and no! I’ve taken a break from writing for the moment and have been focusing on finishing tracks and the creative world surrounding it. I’ve been coming up with a way to tour in a safe way. I can’t wait to play live again! 

Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself during this unique time?

I’ve learnt I quite enjoy my own company! And that being vulnerable isn’t such a bad thing. It can actually make you stronger. Also marmite under beans on toast bangs.

Lastly, what are some of your hopes for the rest of 2020?

I hope that I can hug some people soon! Hopefully put out some more tunes at the end of the year and just generally keep on keeping on.

Check out Olivia Dean’s new single The Hardest Part,’ out now.

photography. Michele Yong
fashion. Luci Ellis
production. Connie Meade
talent. Oliva Dean
artist management. Emily Braham
hair. Zateesha Barbour
make up. Theresa Davies
words. Shama Nasinde

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